For the past four years, we’ve partnered with the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) to recognize a Trainer of the Year. As many of you know, many of our contributors and a large group of our charter subscribers are ILEETA members. We’re very proud of this because ILEETA represents the very heart and soul of what law enforcement is all about—service. I’ve witnessed countless examples of ILEETA members selflessly going the extra mile and then some. This is precisely why the badge on the Trainer of the Year award bears the words service and commitment.
Just being nominated for Trainer of the Year is a great honor, and this year the competition was intense. We received nearly 20 nominations for trainers around the country, each of whom has earned the admiration and respect of their peers. Nominations are carefully screened and evaluated by both ILEETA and Law Officer senior staff. Ultimately, a clear winner emerged.
For 2010, the prestigious award (now known as the “Nowicki” in honor of its first recipient) went to Dave Spaulding. When his name was announced, the room full of ILEETA trainers erupted into instantaneous and prolonged applause. It was evident that the hundreds of trainers in attendance agreed with the choice. Unfortunately, Spaulding could not attend the opening ceremony, so we presented the award at an evening gathering where he responded with a short and gracious acceptance speech. Spaulding thanked everyone and then acknowledged the critical role played by every trainer. Speaking from the heart, he challenged everyone in the room to remember that trainers are absolutely essential to officer survival.
I’ve been reading features written by Dave Spaulding since very early in my career. He’s one of the most widely read and influential firearms trainers and practitioners in the field, and we’re honored that he writes for Law Officer.
An Important Point
While at ILEETA, our editorial staff engaged with many of our contributors and readers. Arising out of those conversations were many nuggets of wisdom along with the pointed realization that we’re operating in a very challenging time. Budgets have been slashed. Many support and sworn positions have been eliminated. Even training ammunition has been limited or become prohibitively expensive. I talked with some trainers who were being moved from full-time training assignments to patrol with training relegated to an ancillary responsibility. In spite of the difficulties, the attitude of those with whom I talked was overwhelmingly positive and focused on getting the job done.
During lunch with Jeff Chudwin, I was struck by the intensity of this man who writes our Tac Ops column. It seemed that every time a subject came up, his responses were concise and constructive. I want to share something that came from that conversation because it may be key to reducing line-of-duty deaths and problematic officer-involved shootings. Regarding police driving, Chudwin said, “Reckless arrival does not equal survival.” This is an incredibly important point that I believe hasn’t been adequately considered. We all know that speed kills and the lives of officers are all too frequently lost in what might be termed a “reckless response.” But the greater realization is that much more frequently, officers arrive on scene with a level of self-induced situational fog that may result in mistakes. In other words, just because an officer doesn’t have a crash on the way to a call doesn’t mean that they’re going to successfully and safely handle the situation.
“Mindset must be on the task ahead,” Chudwin said. “You can’t be hyper-adrenalized when you get there.” I have given a great deal of thought to this comment since that lunch, and I believe Chudwin is onto something. Specifically, trainers and supervisors aren’t placing appropriate emphasis on the front end of the call; the event itself begins when the call is received and the officer first engages in response. Accordingly, we must help officers understand the importance of not only situational awareness but self-awareness. Officers who simply engage in an emergency response mode may unknowingly and unconsciously spiral upward into that hyper-adrenalized state to which Chudwin alluded. In so doing, they’re much more likely to make a mistake that puts themselves or others in potential peril.
The limited space of this note cannot adequately convey the importance of Chudwin’s comments, but I challenge you to remember them. As trainers, you owe it to those you serve to consider this area as you present training and construct training scenarios. For the supervisors out there, courageously confront and hold people accountable when they get ahead of themselves.
—Dale Stockton, Editor in chief